Spending Smart

It's always possible to contribute

Don't have extra money to give to charity during this recession? You can still donate your time. Here's how:

By Julie Balise
Globe Correspondent / May 3, 2009
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Boston Cares
190 High St.,
Boston, MA 02110

A hub for local volunteering, Boston Cares connects members with more than 100 local nonprofit agencies. Volunteers pay a $20 membership fee (or $10 for students, seniors, and those who are unemployed), attend orientation, then browse volunteer opportunities by agency name, region, or type. Boston Cares, which sends out about 20,000 volunteers annually, allows members to volunteer as frequently as they choose.

"Our whole program is based on people volunteering when and where they want to," said Rick Wallwork, associate director. "It's a great way for volunteers to not only find opportunities, but to find a wide variety of opportunities."

Local agencies include the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, Boston Latin's Saturday Success School, and Reach Out and Read, and opportunities range from card playing with senior citizens to tech support. Monetary donations are also accepted on the website. For more information, visit

Boston Living Center
29 Stanhope St.,
Boston, MA 02116

The Boston Living Center, a community-based resource center for people who are HIV positive, offers a variety of volunteering opportunities.

A meal program, including cleaning dining rooms and serving and preparing food, is the primary use of volunteers and features shifts every day. Meals are prepared 9 a.m.-noon Monday, and served from 5:30-8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

Volunteers are also needed for ticket sales, ushering, and promoting special events, like a recent celebration for the nonprofit's Boston Marathon team.

"The Boston Living Center is very much a community," said executive director Valerie Tebbetts. "Everyone who's here, for whatever reason they're here, becomes a part of that community." Skills-based opportunities are available for individuals with data entry and information technology abilities. For more information, visit or e-mail

350 South Huntington Ave.,
Boston, MA 02130

It's kitten season. This means higher demand for volunteers at the MSPCA-Angell, as the nonprofit seeks foster homes for cats, dogs, and thousands of new kittens.

Foster parents can provide medical and dietary care, time, and effort, while food, medicine, and all other materials come from the MSPCA.

"It's a tremendous service," said MSPCA spokesman Brian Adams. "Out of all the cats we adopt out, 25 percent have been through foster care."

There are also opportunities at the animal shelter for volunteers who would like to walk or feed dogs, meet with visitors, or care for cats. Prior experience with animals is not required, just "a pretty big heart that is open to animals," Adams said.

Volunteers must complete an online application and attend orientation for both foster and on-site care prior to volunteering. The next foster care orientation will be held 3-5 p.m. May 16. For more information, visit or or e-mail

Bikes not Bombs
284 Amory St.,
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Bikes not Bombs, a Jamaica Plain-based nonprofit aimed at education, recycling, and redistributing bicycles, has a longstanding Wednesday night volunteer opportunity, according to administrative manager Jeremy Hanson.

Volunteers stop by from 7 to 10 p.m. to work with and break down bikes. A volunteer tech team meets at the same time to perform general information technology help. Volunteers will gather May 17, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m., to load shipping containers to send bicycles to Ghana.

Hanson said between 300 and 400 people volunteer annually, a group that's developed "a very deep sense of community," he said. "There are people who have been here for years, others for weeks. It's not an imposing atmosphere."

Bike and monetary donations are also accepted. For more information, visit or e-mail Hanson at

American Red Cross Food Pantry
1033 Massachusetts Ave.,
Boston, MA 02118
867 Main St.,
Waltham, MA 02451
995 Rockdale Ave.,
New Bedford, MA 02740

Volunteers for the American Red Cross need not necessarily worry about blood and needles.

Food pantries located in Boston, Waltham, and New Bedford are seeking volunteers for what Allie Dryden, project manager of human resources and volunteer management, called "an assembly line of setting up bags."

Volunteers package donated food into dry goods, canned food, and wet food bags, which are distributed to more than 190,000 people annually, according to its website. Interested individuals complete an online orientation, submit an application, and are interviewed by a volunteer coordinator.

"It doesn't require a lot of training," Dryden said. "And it's a great instant-gratification volunteer opportunity."

Pantry hours are: Thursdays 1-6 p.m. in Waltham; Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:30 a.m-12:30 p.m. in Boston; and Tuesdays 2-6 p.m. and Thursdays 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in New Bedford. For more information, visit